From RWU to the Newport Police Department
Brittany Foster ’12 ‘19M wouldn’t change her job for the world. She has served as an active duty police officer since 2013 and currently works for the Newport Police Department as a Patrol Officer.
A two-time graduate of RWU, earning her Bachelor's Criminal Justice in 2012 and her Master's in Leadership in 2019, Foster enjoys the opportunities she has to stay connected. She was on campus recently for a roundtable discussion between police officers and RWU students. We caught up with her after to learn a bit more about her life as a police officer and her RWU experience.
What might a day in your life as a Patrol Officer look like?
I patrol around the town. I might conduct a couple car stops, write a couple parking citations. I respond to calls, so that could be a breaking and entering in progress, a person with a knife, a domestic violence situation or a civil complaint between neighbors. It’s always different.
What made you want to go into criminal justice?
My father was actually in law enforcement and so are two of my cousins. I ended up loving the location of Roger Williams and the program they offered. There is just so much you can do within the field. It’s very broad. You can go into corrections, probation and parole, federal, or you can go into a police department. There are a variety of options.
What have been your favorite moments on the job?
I like to give back to the community so I do a lot of extra programs. I am currently a Rape Aggression Defense instructor so I teach self-defense to females. I think that is really rewarding at the end because you have domestic violence survivors or sexual assault survivors in the classes. They might come in a little bit intimidated and fearful of the class, but they know they want to learn self-defense. By the end they are so empowered and can do the moves we taught them. It’s really incredible to see. I think every woman should feel empowered like that. I love it.
What is your experience being a woman in a male-dominated field?
I definitely think the culture has shifted. Every day as a female I still have to prove myself and show that I can handle myself and do this job, but at the same time there is such an amazing group of men who support women in this field, so I can really appreciate that.
What undergraduate experience helped you find your career?
In my senior year, I had an internship with a domestic violence probation officer in the Newport Courthouse. I would encourage anyone to take an internship, even if they aren’t exactly sure what they want to do. It definitely gave me some real-world work experience. I was going to go into probation and parole and started applying to police departments just to get some experience in interviews, and I got hired and ended up actually loving it. Now I wouldn’t change it for the world.
How did Roger Williams help you grow?
You quickly learn responsibility and independence. You have to get yourself off to class, go to sports and keep that GPA up for your scholarship. I think responsibility and independence was huge freshman year. And then, dedication. A degree is a goal. Four years is a long time and it does go by quick, but it takes dedication and determination to reach your goal.
What made you decide to get your Master’s in Leadership?
Once you get on a police department and finish probation they actually pay for you to go back to school in RI, from your bachelor’s up to your master’s. I wanted to take full advantage of that. I wanted something specialized and ended up liking leadership. There are a ton of negotiations, and really knowing your subordinates, and I think that’s important with the police, especially when you want to start making rank as a sergeant, lieutenant or captain.
Do you have any favorite RWU moments?
I met my friends my first day of orientation. I think that was the most memorable thing for me because I kept those friends all my life. They are still here in Bristol and one actually works on the department with me. I made forever friends who I now call my family.